TRAMPOLINES have become the latest major source of neighbourly disputes with mediation bodies reporting being inundated with complaints about the high noise levels and the nuisance of bouncing "peeping toms".
Voluntary community-mediation groups said the current craze for the garden toy has resulted in them receiving an unprecedented number of complaints.
Fife Community Mediation service said hundreds of people have complained about the noise of children playing on trampolines. Others complain that children are invading people's privacy by bouncing high enough to see over fences and through windows.
The service has even opened a special file on trampoline-related complaints.
Senior staff said both they and a similar group in Edinburgh have been called in to settle trampoline-related disputes.
Service manager Carolyn Jones said: "Children love trampolines and large groups of them are being attracted into gardens to play.
"The noise that this causes, as they bounce and scream, can be very disturbing. Also, springs that need oiling can really cause neighbours' tempers to boil over."
The issue of trampoline 'peeping toms' came from the fact that people who were irritated by the noise were further aggravated by the fact that they could see the person causing it staring into their home, she said.
One man, who lives next door to a trampoline-owning family in Fife, said: "They are very noisy when all the kids are around at the weekends. You can hear the springs all the way up the street.
"I would have a problem if it was going on all the time, but luckily our neighbours are reasonable and know when enough is enough.
"I think I would have reason to complain if they were less considerate, because it does make a racket at times."
However, the craze for the hobby - also an Olympic sport - has been accompanied by a rise in trampoline-related injuries.
In December doctors at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary blamed the trampoline fad for a sharp rise in the number of fractures they were treating.
NHS figures showed that the number of accidents - often resulting in broken bones - had risen dramatically since summer 2003 when the craze began.
A spokesman for the British Gymnastic Association said: "Whilst everyone accepts that garden trampolines have great appeal, British Gymnastics has serious concerns regarding the risks involved, and recommends that all trampoline activities should be undertaken in the correct environment, under the supervision of qualified coaches."